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Aug. 15, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The No. 9 Nittany Lion women's soccer team will make its 2012 regular season debut on Friday evening when it travels to the University of Virginia to take on the No. 7 Cavaliers. Kick time is set for 7 p.m. at Klöckner Stadium. Live stats and video will be available via a link on GoPSUSports.com.
Following Friday's contest, Penn State returns to Jeffrey Field on Sunday as it hosts St. John's at 2:30 p.m. for the first home regular season contest of the 2012-13 Penn State Athletics campaign. The game will mark the first of nine Penn State women's soccer home contests on the 2012 slate. Admission and parking for all Penn State soccer games is free.
Sixth-year head coach Erica Walsh and the Nittany Lions return the majority of their offensive core from last year's Sweet Sixteen squad. 2011 MAC Hermann Trophy Finalist Maya Hayes (West Orange, N.J.), two-time NSCAA All-American Christine Nairn (Arnold, Md.), Emily Hurd (Sammamish, Wash.) and Taylor Schram (Canonsburg, Pa.) tallied 52 goals and 38 assists (142 points) to lead a potent Penn State offensive attack in 2011.
Hayes and Schram were selected for the U.S. Under-20 National Team, which will be competing in the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup later this month. The Nittany Lion duo completed training in Bradenton, Fla. on July 30 before being officially selected to head coach Steve Swanson's squad. Swanson is the current head coach at Virginia. Hayes and Schram will miss the beginning portion of the season because of their U.S. National Team obligations, but are expected to return to the Penn State program no later than Sept. 16 as the Nittany Lions host Wisconsin in their Big Ten opener.
Additionally, the Lions will welcome back All-Big Ten Second Team goalkeeper Erin McNulty (Winnipeg, Manitoba) for her final year of eligibility. Also back is NSCAA All-Great Lakes and All-Big Ten First Team defender Lexi Marton (Aurora, Ontario) as well as All-Big Ten Freshman Team honorees Kori Chapic (Novelty, Ohio), Whitney Church (Ashburn, Va.) and Hurd.
Virginia returns seven starters and 20 letterwinners from last year's squad that reached the NCAA quarterfinals. The Cavaliers are returning 10 of their 11 goal scorers. Morgan Brian, who scored 11 goals last year for the Cavaliers will miss Friday's contest as she has joined Schram and Hayes on the Under-20 World Cup team. Virginia's leading scorer in Caroline Miller returns, as she netted 15 goals last season and assisted on four.
One of the fiercest inter-conference rivalries in women's college soccer, Penn State-Virginia has lent many exciting moments over the recent years. Penn State leads the all-time record at 6-2-1. This will be the third visit to Charlottesville the Nittany Lions have made in 10 meetings. On Sept. 8, 1998, then-No.16 PSU raced out of Klöckner Stadium with a 2-1 overtime win over No. 6 Virginia. Last year, Penn State used two goals Hayes including the game-winner in the 66th minute to down seventh-ranked Virginia at the time, 3-2 for the win in Charlottesville.
St. John's enters 2012 coming off a 9-9-1 overall record last year and a 5-6-0 mark in Big East played. The Red Storm returns its second leading scorer in Caitlyn McLaughlin, who tallied eight points last season on two goals and four assists. Lauren Ferris is the top returner in goal, as she posted three wins last season in 725 minutes of action.
This will be the first ever matchup between the Red Storm and the Nittany Lions. Penn State is 35-9-1 all-time against current Big East opponents. However, the Red Storm did visit Happy Valley in 2009 for an NCAA Regional, falling in penalty kicks to Virginia.
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